|The 5 hardest countries to qualify for worlds from
||[Feb. 27th, 2013|02:36 pm]
not getting any work done, so I figured I would write up something that's on my mind...|
Ghana - they seem to have had players do well over the years, but I don't have anyone in particular in mind.
Indonesia - I know they have a good youth scene, and I expect them to start doing well, but somehow Ferdy Antonius always ends up being their representative anyway.
Malaysia - it seems like they will have to choose between a bunch of good players of comparable ability to fill in their 3 spots. Go Vannitha!
the Philippines - They have three world-class players in Odette, Marlon and Teodoro Martus and only two spots. However, since my mortal nemesis (Martus) is apparently going on temporary hiatus, this year won't be quite so brutal.
USA - The US has never been that tough until recently (see qualification tournaments in the 2000s with 6 attendees and 3 spots) but the last WSC and this year are proving to be different as Collins interest ramps up. Still, we get a ton of spots so I'm not going to list us any higher.
Malta is clearly the best of the countries that only get one representative for this year. Theresa Brousson is one of the best women in the world, and they have another strong player in David Delicata. That's enough to land them here.
I have no idea if Goutham is going to try to qualify as a resident of Singapore or India, which makes a big difference in this ranking...but India is clearly an up-and-comer in the scrabble world. They have some worlds-level experts in Akshay Bhandarkar and Sherwin Rodrigues, and I know next to zero about Shanker Menon, but he just emerged out of nowhere to come 3rd in Vienna. I think they'll be picking up another spot this year.
Singapore has a ton of good young players, including Goutham who had a spectacular run at Kings Cup last year, scoring record holder Toh Weibin and Indonesian transplant Ricky Purnomo. Hubert Wee has been on the scene for almost a decade and has a legitimate chance at winning the whole thing. Add to that some other perennial experts like Cheah and Tony Sim, and it's clearly going to be a brutal selection process.
Nigeria is a rising power in the Scrabble world, offering the biggest prize of any tournament in the world last year (Godswill) and featuring a host of talented experts who receive state subsidy to compete. From what I gather, they recently hosted a training camp to improve their preparation for the African Scrabble Championship, showing how seriously they will take their worlds preparation. Their biggest obstacle to success is the prospect of another Worlds in Eastern Europe that might see them foiled by visa issues again. It also sounds like they are having their fair share of domestic issues, with top player Wellington Jighere now out of the picture and some kind of ongoing Scrabble rift in the country featuring lots of rhetorical flourish. I have no idea how they will choose which experts to send or if any will make it at all, but if they do, watch out...Rex Ogbakpa, Nsikan Etim, Ayorinde Saidu and recent Malta winner Chinedu Okwelogu are all names to watch out for.
It is absolutely SICK that Thailand only has 6 qualifiers. Sure, Panupol is apparently on semi-permanent hiatus, but they might have the second-most Scrabble talent of any country in the world anyway. There have been years where either Pakorn or Panupol haven't played Worlds because they weren't able to qualify! Pakorn, Jakkrit, Charnwit, Marut, Komol and Chollapat are all at the elite level or above, not to mention more young talent like Charnrit and Preedee Khongthanarat, Taewan and 2012 Kings cup runner-up Thacha...there seems to be a systematic trend of them under-performing as a team at Worlds, perhaps in part because of travel expenses preventing some of their younger members from attending. Realistically, Thailand should have more like 9 or 10 spots at least, but it will be awhile before that's the case.